By Times Staff Writer
Published September 21, 2003
Do energy-efficient appliances really make that big of a difference? The answer is yes. Even if the initial purchase price is higher, you stand to save hundreds of dollars a year in energy bills - plus you help protect the environment at the same time.
1. Look for the "Energy Star" qualification. It means the appliance's energy efficiency beats the federal standard by at least 10 percent. To learn more about the Energy Star program, go to www.energystar.gov
2. Check out the labels. Those yellow-and-black Energy Guide labels displayed on appliances in stores allow you to compare different models' energy capacity, energy-efficiency ratings and estimated annual energy consumption.
3. Ask about rebates. Some utility companies and manufacturers promote appliances that save energy. Tampa Electric has a heating and cooling rebate of $250, while Progress Energy Florida offers loans of up to $20,000 to pay for certain home energy improvements such as a high-efficiency heat pump or air conditioner. The salesperson may know about the availability of manufacturers' rebates.
4. Buy the right fridge. Top- or bottom-freezer refrigerators tend to be more energy-efficient than side-by-side models. Here's a tip: Don't buy a refrigerator because it has a switch for an energy-saving mode. Despite the name, such switches don't have much effect on energy consumption.
5. Know thy washing machines. Front-loaders cost more, but they hold more clothes and use much less energy and water. That's why front-loaders often qualify for rebates, while most top-loaders do not.
6. Stay dry. Opt for a dryer with a moisture sensor because it will stop operating as soon as the laundry is dry. Also, gas dryers may cost a bit more, but they use less energy and generate far fewer carbon dioxide emissions than electric dryers.
7. Get the dish on dishwashers. Compare models carefully, noting how much energy and water they require. Once you bring a dishwasher home, operate it efficiently by running it only when the load is full.
8. Fluorescent is fundamental. Make the switch to compact fluorescent bulbs in fixtures that stay on at least three hours a day. The bulbs cost more than standard incandescent bulbs, but they quickly pay for themselves through energy savings.
9. Don't get frozen out. For the past two years, federal standards have required all new stand-alone freezers to use up to 30 percent less energy than older models. It's food for thought if you have an older freezer.
10. Seal and insulate your home's duct system. Eliminating leaks can bolster efficiency and save 10 percent in energy costs each year.